In December, we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary and 22 fantastic years in the business of selling Miami real estate together. It hasn’t always been easy, but we have learned plenty of lessons over the years and worked our way to becoming one of the area’s top husband-wife Realtor teams.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we offer our advice to couples who may also be considering becoming business partners, especially in the competitive and demanding field of real estate.
1. Embrace your differences: Your strength as business partners will naturally derive from your strength as spouses. No matter how similar you may think you are after many years of marriage, you are still two very different people. Very often, those differences in couples make them powerful and successful, and they should be fully embraced. For example, in our partnership, we are both very detail-oriented and enjoy negotiating. Julia, however, excels in everything to do with contracts and problem solving, while Frank loves technology and marketing. Our ability to focus on these individual strengths truly maximizes what we offer our customers.
2. Define your roles: Once you recognize and embrace your differences, you can further define and grow your business. With us, Frank enjoys working with all types of buyers: first-timers, second or retirement home buyers, as well as investment or commercial property purchasers. This is a true real estate skill; having the patience and flexibility to work with a variety of buyers, who can be notoriously fickle! Julia appreciates the challenge of listing and closing deals; getting homeowners to confide in and trust her, and then convincing other agents and buyers to choose her team’s home over the competition.
3. Respect your partner: There will be quite a number of times when you do not see eye to eye with your spouse-partner. Our best advice? Get over it! Respect both your marriage and your partnership, listen to each other’s differing opinions, decide what works best for your customer (regardless of who authored the idea), and then, move on.
Of course, this can be challenging when you have two competitive, focused, high-energy, type-A personalities! For example: When we first became partners, Frank was already producing quite well, having only been in the real estate business for one year when Julia joined him. He was therefore used to taking the lead with customers and, as a result, would jump right in the midst of a conversation and take the lead.
Due to the combined 43 years of experience we bring to the table, we to this day quite often need to restrain our respective desires to jump in and take over the conversation. We have learned to temper ourselves, although it is an ongoing process given our high-energy personalities.
4. What happens at home stays at home: Remember, this is your successful and experienced business partner who understands the issues you are going through, because he or she has probably been there before. Too often, we have seen other spouse-partners struggle in carving out clear boundaries between their personal and professional lives.
Together, we have raised two children, grown a thriving real estate business, been happy, sick, elated, sad, crazy busy, happily frustrated, attended art festivals, doctors’ appointments and conferences together (and this is just a snippet of our life), both as a couple and as business partners. We have the same ups and downs as our customers.
Home and business are a delicate and intricate weaving that occurs daily. All of this is done with discretion and care because, at the very literal end of the day, no matter how successful we are, and how much we help our customers obtain what they need or want, we are a man and woman and each other’s face is the last we see at night, and the first to greet the other in the morning.
5. Keep the romance! Don’t let days and weeks go by without buying flowers, sneaking out for a midnight movie, surprising your spouse with a latte as they’re pacing back and forth during negotiations, slipping a glass of wine in front of them as they’re in front of a computer screen late at night, or gently kissing the top of their head as you see them on the phone. Spontaneity breathes life into your marriage, and will positively impact your business.
Frank and Julia Pulles are members of the Master Brokers Forum, a network of the top-producing real estate professionals in Miami, and Realtors with Coldwell Banker in Coral Gables. Frank@pulles.com orJulia@pulles.com.